Blast From the Past: Botanical Cocktail Ingredients, 1858 Style


Imagine my excitement when this came into our bookstore.

The full title of the book is Fermented Liquors: a Treatise on Brewing, Distilling, Rectifying, and Manufacturing of Sugars, Wines, Spirits, and All Known Liquors, Including Cider and Vinegar:  Also, Hundreds of Valuable Directions in Medicine, Metallurgy, Pyrotechny, and the Arts in General, by Lewis Feuchtwanger.

The actual beautiful old weird creature that is this book is totally worth owning, but if you aren’t going to pick up a copy, it’s available as a free ebook from Google.

Anyway, it’s a fascinating compilation of recipes, including many that will be familiar and yet not familiar to modern drinkers.  Lots of interesting uses for common plants, too.  There is carrot wine.  There is red cabbage dye.  And I am so glad he managed to work pyrotechny into it, because I needed to know about that, too.

Everything about this table of contents explained what inspired me to write The Drunken Botanist.  Corn beer?  Elderberry wine? Beet sugar?  Agave, ginger, etc?



Some of my favorite bits:

A mint julep recipe that features sugar, mint (so far, so good, right?), no whiskey at all, and–get this–rum, cognac, and GIN!  GAH!


And then!  An Egg Punch that calls for 24 egg yolks!  Not the whites, but the yellows!  The yolks.  And please do note that this mixture of 2 dozen egg yolks, a full pound of sugar, and 1 1/2 bottles of rum is considered sufficient to serve six people.




And then there’s this.  Plant dyes to turn your weird fermented liquors to the color of your choosing!

Cochineal is a bug, in case you didn’t know.  A type of scale that excretes red stuff.

I had to look up orchill.  It’s a lichen.  The color is achieved through fermentation.  Of course.



That’s your history lesson for the day.  Cheers!


  1. I’m not sure that would go over well at my next cocktail party. An egg punch that serves 6 people?

    “This is different, what’s in it?”
    “Oh, four egg yolks and four ounces of sugar”.

  2. So, flash forward 155 years from now. Will someone then be able to stumble across a tome like this from our time, the era of e-readers? Although I guess they might find a copy of “The Drunken Botanist” by one Amy Stewart 🙂 but you see my point.

  3. That is the coolest book I’ve seen a long while. Thank you so much for sharing it, already perusing the ebook.

  4. Egg punch, that is still sold in bottles in Germany. Tastes incredible. And add almost any berry to 40 proof corn and let steep for 6 weeks for a different way to “preserve” fruit. The fruit tastes pretty good over pound cake and a scoop of vanilla ice cream after you strain the liquid.

  5. Hmmm..I have been looking for a way to use up the eggs from our chickens in the yard…Egg punch will be perfect! HA! I will be looking up that ebook though…Very Cool stuff. Thanks for posting.

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